Theology at Blanchelande is a goldmine for any student with an enquiring mind and has proven to be one of the most popular subjects at A-Level. Students are introduced to the timeless wisdom of the great Judaeo-Christian tradition, while acquiring an appreciation of, and due respect for, different religious traditions and their adherents.
Theology at Blanchelande
Throughout Key Stage 3 and 4 Students spend 75% of curriculum time devoted to Catholicism and 25% dedicated to other world religions as in line with the Religious Education Curriculum Directory. As a department we place a strong emphasis on analysing and understanding Biblical and Catechism sources alongside referencing the encyclicals appropriate to the topics.
Lower Seniors (Key Stage 3)
Year 7 students work systematically through the Old Testament, starting with learning about God and his attributes as seen through the Creation narratives of Genesis 1 and 2, followed by studying the Fall and Original Sin (Genesis 3 and 4). Following this unit, students learn about the covenants God made with Abraham, Noah, Moses, Joseph, Esther and King David.
During the second half of the Hilary term, students study the world religion Islam, learning about the core Islamic beliefs and making comparisons with Christianity.
In the Trinity term, students complete a FOSIL project on St Theresa of Calcutta (Mother Theresa). Within the FOSIL Project students choose their own non-googleable question to find out more about her life and impact upon the Catholic Church and the wider world.
Year 8 students study the New Testament and the life of Jesus, beginning with the birth and baptism of Jesus. Students begin to identify how core elements (such as parables and miracles) from the Bible are applied in the daily lives of Catholics and how these may have significance for their lives, too.
The second topic studied is the salvific mission of Jesus, focusing on the Passion Narratives of the New Testament, allowing students to understand the impact of the crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, and Pentecost.
Following this, students study Buddhism as their second world religion; they learn about the core beliefs and compare how Siddhartha Gautama taught his followers through parables as Jesus did.
Moving through Hilary Term, students study the history of the Church's mission before an in-depth study of the seven Sacraments.
Rounding the year off students are provided the opportunity to complete another FOSIL project focused upon St Thomas More and his impact on the Catholic Church.
Year 9 students go back to the beginning of philosophical thought that has influenced the Catholic tradition. Students are provided the opportunity to explore Plato and Aristotle's theoretical perspectives on the world before moving into St Thomas Aquinas' arguments for the existence of God which were heavily influenced by Aristotle in particular. This topic culminates in considering ethical ideas such as Natural Law and how we should use our conscience.
The second unit focuses on St Thomas Aquinas' Theology of the Body which allows students to understand what it means to be created ‘in imago Dei’ (in the image of God).
Following this, students are provided the opportunity to complete a third FOSIL project on St Pope John Paul II focusing on his life and impact on the Catholic Community.
Finally, Year 9 culminates in the completion of the first GCSE unit – Creation – as it draws together their learning during Years 7-9.
Key Stage 4
AQA Specification B Catholic Christianity, Judaism and Themes B and C
Developing their knowledge from Key Stage 3 Theology, students explore Catholic Christian and Jewish beliefs, teachings, and practices. Students also thematically study a range of philosophical and ethical topics including peace and conflict and human rights. Each topic is highly relevant for life in the 21st century as well as enhancing understanding of other subjects at GCSE and beyond.
Component 1: Catholic Christianity
Students study Catholic beliefs, teachings, practices, sources of authority and forms of expression through 6 units: Creation; Incarnation; Triune God; Redemption; Church and the Kingdom of God and Eschatology. This unit is assessed by an exam which lasts for 1 hour 45 minutes and constitutes 50% of the GCSE.
Component 2: Perspectives on faith
Students study Jewish beliefs, teachings, practices, and sources of authority. As well as studying two Ethical Themes: Theme B: Religion, Peace and Conflict and Theme C: Religion, Human Rights and Social Justice from a Catholic Perspective. This paper allows students to apply their knowledge from Paper one to current issues. This paper lasts for 1 hour 45 minutes and constitutes 50% of the GCSE.
Key Stage 5
A Level: OCR Religious Studies
The A Level is a thought-provoking course allowing students to develop their understanding and appreciation of religious beliefs and teachings alongside focusing on specific ethical theories and philosophical arguments for the existence of God. It is split into three units: Philosophy of Religion, Religious Ethics and Developments in Christian Thought. Each unit is assessed by a 2-hour written paper and is worth 33.33% of the overall grade.
Component 1: Philosophy of Religion
Students study philosophical language and thought, and issues and questions raised by belief:
- Ancient philosophical influences
- the nature of the soul, mind and body
- Arguments about the existence or non-existence of God
- The nature and impact of religious experience
- The challenge for religious belief of the problem of evil
- Ideas about the nature of God
- Issues in religious language.
Component 2: Religious Ethics
Students explore key concepts and the works of influential thinkers, ethical theories and their application:
- Normative ethical theories
- The application of ethical theory to two contemporary issues of importance
- Ethical language and thought
- Debates surrounding the significant idea of conscience
- Sexual ethics and the influence on ethical thought of developments in religious beliefs.
Component 3: Developments in Christian Thought
- Religious beliefs, values and teachings, their interconnections and how they vary historically and in the contemporary world
- Sources of religious wisdom and authority
- Practices which shape and express religious identity, and how these vary within a tradition
- Significant social and historical developments in theology and religious thought
- Key themes related to the relationship between religion and society.
Thought and Culture (General RE)
Blanchelande students develop a strong moral sense which is developed at Sixth Form by the opportunity to explore broad philosophical and theological questions. Sixth Formers learn to discuss and debate with enthusiasm and respect for different points of view and belief, promoting tolerance and understanding in the search for truth.
While there is a T&C course outline – with key resources including the online ‘Word on Fire’ platform developed by Bishop Robert Barron –, the aim is for the sessions to be meaningful for students, and sessions often develop spontaneously based on the questions and points raised by Sixth Formers.
Students are introduced to key thinkers such as St John Henry Newman, G K Chesterton and Dr Jordan Peterson.
Topics may include the following:
- Do saints such as St Francis of Assisi have relevance for us today?
- Is religion necessary for an authentic care of the environment?
- Is it true that young people are less religious than in the past, and what reasons are there for why young people may or may not be religious?
- Is atheism a religion and are there benefits to it as a worldview?